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Digital Art gave Reason to Live and Inspire – Open letter by Brian Boyle!

Graphic Artist in the Wheelchair: The Brian Boyle Story
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Dear visitors, below is an Open letter by the man, who cheated Death on more than one occasion and beaten all odds, "to live" and fulfill his dream to become "Graphic artist". Brian Boyle in his open letter to Graphic Community tell his tale and explains how Digital Art helped him come back to life after recovering from a near fatal car accident three years ago. His story is one of hope and inspiration - a tale of perseverance and the eternal human spirit.

Dear Friends,
My name is Brian Boyle, I am 21 years old, and I live in Maryland. I am an artist, photographer, and aspiring Graphic designer and in this open letter to CG Community, I would like to tell about my story and digital arts career because art has really helped me come back to life after recovering from a near fatal car accident three years ago and my art is based on this entire experience. I'm not trying to get famous with my story, but I found that it has given me the opportunity to hopefully inspire and motivate those out in the world that need it, both artists and non-artists who are trying to overcome tragedy through the idea of art therapy and a positive attitude.

click to enlarge "the skeleton sitting in the wheelchair - me" - Brian Boyle

“Look at the image and realistically put yourself in the shoes of the boy sitting in the wheelchair. Image being hit so hard that your heart is instantly ripped across your chest, bones shattering and snapping in the blink of an eye, lungs collapsing, your life slipping away as each second ticks by, your heart shuts down and is revived back to life through electricity and then shuts down again and repeats that process several times, losing consciousness and pints of blood, life forces diminishing, the unimaginable pain, the chemically induced coma for two months, the paralysis, the pneumonia, the infections, the seizures, having your last rights said to you and being completely aware of that, watching a priest give you the last rights on several occasions, the routine CAT scans and MRI tests, not breathing for several minutes because the life support tubes clogged, waking up in a room and not knowing where you are and how you arrived there, the feeling of being told that your life was over, looking at your parents standing over your hospital bed and wondering why they are crying their eyes out, not being able to talk or communicate because you have four tubes going down your throat and to weak to raise a finger, having Vaseline spread across your dry eyes because you are not able to blink, being fed through a tube that goes down your nose, the alcohol baths, having your diaper changed every 30 minutes because you have no control over your bodily functions, viewing other patients in the intensive care unit rolling by your room with sheets covering their faces, listening to the nurses talk to your parents about plans of looking at nursing homes for you because there is a negative chance of coming out of the coma "normal", and the indescribable agony of it all. As each day went along in your hospitalization period, they said that you were in God’s hands; it was unsure whether you would leave your hospital room in a wheelchair or a body bag. In all actuality, you were the worst patient in the unit for many weeks besides those who were on their way to the morgue. You died eight times but each time you were brought back to life only to suffer more. Does suffering end when the body physically dies or when the will to live takes over? You imagine all this, realizing how brutal and unmerciful life can be, and you become the skeleton sitting in the wheelchair - me.”

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Digital Art by Brian Boyle

The reason why art is so important to me is because I express myself through my drawings and Digital Art work emotionally, mentally, and even physically and it was a very therapeutic hobby for me to take part in after getting out of the hospital three years ago. A lot of my art is based on the whole comatose experience that I was in for two months where I died 8 times. I'm known as the guy who makes art about coming back to life, and I guess that will be my focus as an artist for the future which I think works out pretty well because some of the stuff I make definitely has a lot of hidden meaning; recreating scenes from my memory of being in a coma, hallucinations, near death experiences, coming back to life, medical instruments, 14 operations, and a lot of the horrible things that I saw throughout the whole ordeal - that combination can be a surreal experience all in itself.

I grew up around art and have always wanted to be an artist. I started out wanting to be a cartoonist and I would try to recreate my own cartoon strips, and then that later led to drawing and trying to copy the style of all the greatest artists. I never really thought I had any talent with drawing, but I loved it, the freedom it gave me to express my thoughts and emotions is what led me to it. All through high school, I started getting involved with Photoshop and digital photography, and I knew deep down that I was going to be an artist and study graphic design> in college, but then the accident happened.

click to enlarge
Digital Art by Brian Boyle

A month after I graduated high school in 2004, I was coming home from swim practice and was involved in a very serious car accident with a dump truck. The impact of the crash knocked my heart across my chest, breaking most of my ribs/clavicle/pelvis, collapsing my lungs, losing 60% of my blood, severe nerve damage to my left shoulder, and in a coma where I was on life support for over two months at Prince Georges Hospital Center in Cheverly, MD.

I died eight times while I was in the intensive care unit and even when I woke up from my coma, I couldn't talk or communicate. The day that they knew that I would live, was the day that I either left my room in a wheelchair or a body bag. As far as the future, it didn't exist. Walking was never going to happen again due to all the extreme injuries and because of the shattered pelvis. The thought of swimming was just that, only a thought. Just like my body, my dreams were shattered.

After spending two months in a coma, 36 blood transfusions, 13 plasma treatments, I lost a total of 100 pounds and had to go to a rehabilitation center in Baltimore. I had to learn how to talk, eat, shower, and live independently again. After that agonizing experience, I had to go to outpatient therapy in Waldorf, MD. After spending a few months in a wheelchair, I took baby steps to walk on my own.

My rehabilitation and therapy was not just physical, it was also psychological and mental. It was therapeutic for me to draw and put my thoughts on paper and that is exactly what I did, for many hours of everyday. My pen was my psychiatrist and I spoke to it subconsciously, and my emotions poured out onto the paper. Art has helped me come back to life after recovering from a near fatal car accident three years ago and my Digital art is based on this entire experience. I strongly believe that life is a learning experience in itself because everyday you discover a new element that makes you stronger as an individual; art is symbolically similar to life because art represents the essence and nature of life which makes art as well as life a learning experience. My "Digital Art" portrays who I am as a human being, and shows my inner feelings that can not be expressed by words - recreating scenes from my memory of being in a coma, hallucinations, near death experiences, coming back to life,14 operations, and a lot of the unfathomable things that I saw throughout the whole ordeal.

This is what makes art so extraordinary because an image that appears to be a blotch of colors is actually an expression of the artist’s emotions. I can create a different interpretation of my work, just by adding a variety of color-coordinated textures and value changes. An artist portrays his thoughts and feelings into his work by using neutral colors like gray and blue to show a feeling of peace, or use more vivid colors like red and orange to show rage or anger and most importantly the essence of life, the substance of blood. The usage of black and white colors shows a clear boundary of life and death. I try to use different effects like this in my artwork to catch the viewer’s eye; elongating a certain stroke or angle can change the whole perspective of a painting or sketch. Whether I’m drawing a picture of the intersection that my accident took place, or trying to recreate the feeling and emotion on paper of what it was like to come back to life, they are all expressed by my emotions which are signified by the elements of Digital art.

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Every artist has a focus and a story to tell, and I'd love to get to the point where I could have my own shows, galleries, exhibits, and show my work, tell my story, and hopefully inspire a few people along the way, both artists and non-artists. With the 50 year life expectancy I was given from the doctors, I am just trying to live each day to the fullest and motivate and hopefully inspire other people to never give up on their dreams, and to never stop believing no matter how bad a situation is.
As for the future, I am studying "graphic design" with a focus in digital photography and web design. As my hobby, I have plans to start working with installations coming up because I find that I could really bring this whole tragic memory (including my near death experience) into real life again, not so I can actually re-live the experience, but so I could show and explain what it's like to die and then be reborn, a concept that I'm fascinated and almost obsessed with, and I think I came up with this idea over the years of constantly being asked by everyone about what it was like? It's really hard to explain what it’s like, but every time I was asked, I always had something new to add to it, and I just figured, why not "show" what it was like, and this is the meaning behind my work.
Art is an extremely powerful psychological component, and also a very important element within my lifestyle, an element that has brought me back to life. My name is Brian Boyle and I am the artist in the wheelchair

Good day - Brian Boyle


>> About Video: NBC News Video that aired on 11/13/07 about Brian Boyle's journey from his deathbed to the 2007 Ford Ironman World Championship.

To learn more about Brian and his journey back to life, he can be reached at Bjboyle@smcm.edu and his website is www.Team-Boyle.com. Besides being an artist, he is also a competitive ironman triathlete and has recently completed the Ford Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii and his story and race footage will be broadcasted on the Ironman show on Dec. 1 on NBC between 4:30-6:00pm Eastern Time Zone.



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